How it Goes with Room mates, Part I

If you are in the in the market to rent a room in your house here are a few things worthy of consideration:

1) The wear and tear. Another person, no matter how quiet and careful is going to BE in your house. Expect that they are going to use things. Unless you have set aside a separate apartment with it's own entrance consider how you are going to feel about someone else using your kitchen, your bathroom and your utilities. Also, in most areas it's only reasonable to assume the renter will have to park their car somewhere. If you live in a city where the only parking available is street side parking, expect that to effect the amount you can charge in rent.

2) The loss of privacy. Sure it sounds like an awesome idea to cut your mortgage in half by getting a room mate – AND are you ready to say good-bye to privacy? Think long and hard about finding the perfect room mate. Can you advertise in a hospital for example, someone who works opposite shift as you? Can you use word of mouth to find a nice quiet, employed person. Is there some careful way you can figure out if this person likes to have parties? Do you like to have parties? Do you smoke? Can you handle a room mate who smokes? All good questions to ask yourself sooner not later!

3) The utilities: you can keep the bill in your name and split everything. Or make your renter set up their own phone line, computer line, TV service, or estimate what the additional will be and roll it into the rent. The last option is usually most palatable to the renter if you want to get your room rented quickly. The middle choice is the most fair. The first one is a good option if you are renting to a friend, a friend of a friend or anyone short term.

4) The market will bear what the market will bear: so you think you have the most awesome house on the block, you're the best looking lessor known to man, and besides THAT you've got a great location. Nonetheless if you charge more than everyone else, you probably won't get takers. Look in your local paper, and ask around a few real estate offices to ascertain the going rate.

5) The room itself, and amenities. If you live in a complex that has a weight room, guest parking, a tennis court – these are amenities worth advertising upfront. Telling your prospective tenant they have "full kitchen privileges" or use of the land line phone are not. No one is going to rent a room based on the phone situation, they will sooner get a cell, or hook up their own land line than listen you crow about this "amenity." If you DON'T intend on letting your tenant use the kitchen, don't bother renting the room – no one will want it. Think about putting a dresser or a desk in the room for their use, don't think about filling the room with decorative items You've picked out that belong to You.